Jumbotron Screen History: Early Use and Evolution

Nowadays, we’re used to big screens with crystal clear and crisp image and video quality. We go to cinemas and enjoy state-of-the-art screen technology that immerses and brings us to new worlds and experiences. However, before all of these became possible, someone had to ignite the idea. There must be a first in the field of wide-screen displays. That “first” we’re talking about is the Sony JumboTron in the long jumbotron screen history.

In this article, we’ll go back in time and discuss the first large-screen technology that became the grandfather of all large screens today: the jumbotron. This inspiration was at the forefront of innovation and technological progress. We’ll discuss the jumbotron’s invention, its first use after its release, and how good it was back then.

Jumbotron Screen History: Its Name

The jumbotron screen is a common term nowadays. However, Sony originally coined the term, which was stylized as “JumboTron.” There was no official explanation for the coined term. But we do a little bit of research. The suffix “tron” is actually a Greek word that means “instrument.” Hence, the jumbotron or JumboTron can described as a jumbo or giant instrument. That makes sense, right? However, Sony stopped manufacturing the jumbotron screen, and the term has already become popular among manufacturers of large screens.


In the early 1980s, Sony invented the jumbotron screen in Japan. Yasuo Koroki, Sony’s creative director at the time, led its development. However, while Sony claims to be the inventor of this screen, there’s a dispute in the matter. Mitsubishi Electric also claims to be the inventor of the jumbotron. But if we look at who secured the trademark first, Sony has more reason to claim they were the first. 

In the case of Mitsubishi Electric, they’re the first one to manufacture a wide-screen display. Unfortunately, they didn’t secure a trademark, which gave Sony an upper ground back then. You may be the first to manufacture it, but that’s nothing compared to a trademark. Mitsubishi called their version of a large-scale video board as Diamond Vision, but it doesn’t sound as cool as a JumboTron. 

From the jump, one would easily know what a Sony JumboTron is. The keyword would be “jumbo.” At the same time, Diamond Vision doesn’t have much of a ring to it. Well, it does say “diamond,” which may refer to its sharp video output. However, if it’s just purely word wars, Sony JumboTron has much more of a ring to it than the Diamond Vision.

Then came Panasonic in the arena. They introduced Astro Vision, which sounds similar to Mitsubishi’s brand. However, they were the three innovators in the large-scale screen market back then. Still, Sony has a legacy over jumbotrons because they coined this word, which is now used as a generic term for large-scale screens.

Unveiling the Jumbotron for the First Time

The Sony JumboTron was the first product unveiled in the jumbotron screen history.
Sony JumboTron at Expo 85 in Tsukuba, Japan

In May 1985, the Sony introduced their latest large-scale technology to the world. Sony presented this new piece of technology at Expo 85 in Tsukuba, Japan. The screen has a display pixel resolution of 450,000. That’s slightly above the standard pixel resolution of 720×480 or 345,600 pixels today. The Expo 85 Sony JumboTron from Sony was a gamechanger because of the pixel count. It was considered the standard definition in 1985 and it’s way clearer than other screens.

When the Sony JumboTron was released, 450,000 pixels was already the standard definition display, and other screens back then were of lower resolutions.

During that time, the display quality of the Sony JumboTron was already exemplary. If you find yourself in awe when you look at an IMAX screen, your reaction is probably the same as those people who saw the JumboTron for the first time. Sony’s JumboTron used proprietary technology to develop this large-scale display. They call this Trini-lite. This kind of technology gave the Sony JumboTron exceptional quality and computer control.

Jumbotron Screen Applications

After its unveiling at Expo 85 in Japan, the JumboTron was first used indoors in the HemisFair Arena in San Antonio, Texas. The Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida, also had a JumboTron. It has a diagonal measurement of 30 feet and a resolution of 204×192 pixels only. This resolution is not outstanding. A VHS even has better resolution at 320×480 pixels. Hence, the Tampa Stadium JumboTron wasn’t the best in terms of resolution. 

The JumboTron shown at Expo 85 wasn’t the biggest. It only measured 40×25 meters. However, the biggest JumboTron was in Toronto, Ontario, in the SkyDome, which is now known as the Rogers Centre. The SkyDome JumboTron boasts a size of 10×33.5 meters and an outstanding resolution of 672×200, which is around 134,400 pixels. 

Moreover, Times Square is known for its stunning displays, and it’s quite historic that the JumboTron was the pioneer for video boards in Times Square. Back then, JumboTron was the only large-scale display in that area.

Purpose and Evolution

Jumbotrons boast a large screen, making them ideal for video projections across wide venues. They were originally intended to display scores in gameplay matches, which makes it easy for the audience to keep track of scores throughout the game. However, it evolved into something greater. As soon as digital media kicked in, jumbotrons were already used as concert screens and advertising boards.

Today, jumbotrons have now evolved into far better screens with high resolutions. The first jumbotrons used CRT technology. Nowadays, large-scale screens are now made of LEDs for energy efficiency and exceptional video quality. Times Square is now filled with large-scale displays of different sizes. Indeed, technological developments have enabled manufacturers to take inspiration from the jumbotron and make a better product out of this idea.


Jumbotrons have come a long way. It started as an idea from Japanese innovators until it became a wide spread phenomenon that changed the way how people consume media. With LED technology leading the way for displays and screens, it is worth revisiting the early days and reminiscing how the once impossible is now a reality. We hope you like this short history about jumbotron.

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